Explore Georgia Promotes Value, Importance of Professional Meetings on Global Meetings Industry Day

ATLANTA – April 7, 2022 – In support of Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) today and this year’s theme, “Meet Safe,” Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is proud to showcase how the state is successfully hosting in-person meetings safely. GMID, led by the industry advocacy coalition Meetings Mean Business and the U.S. Travel Association, recognizes the proven value that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows, and exhibitions bring to businesses and the economy.

“There is no substitute for the value of in-person meetings,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Deputy Commissioner for Tourism Mark Jaronski. “Our state tourism office, Explore Georgia, is grateful to Governor Brian Kemp, our General Assembly, and the statewide tourism industry for making Georgia a leader in the return of professional meetings and conventions, and proving to meeting planners that they can count on Georgia to host events safely and maintain its commitment to this critical segment of the travel industry.”

Georgia offers a wide array of meeting and convention spaces, located from the mountains to the beach and big cities to small towns, with diverse experiences that attendees can enjoy outside of scheduled conference events. Communities across the state have led the way in hosting safe meetings and are expanding their facilities and event offerings to continue hosting groups of all sizes now and well into the future. In addition, many facilities have earned the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation, the gold standard in safety protocols.

The Classic Center in Athens, a GBAC STAR-accredited facility, successfully hosted the Georgia School Superintendents Association’s Bootstrap Conference in December 2020 and received positive attendee feedback that recognized the center’s preparations to make the in-person event safe. The Classic Center will break ground this spring on The Classic Center Arena, a 5,500-square-foot multi-purpose venue that is scheduled to open in Fall 2023.

Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, the first convention center in the United States to achieve GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation, had its safety measures in full effect for the American Society of Hematology’s 63rd Annual Meeting and Exposition in December 2021. To keep attendees and staff safe, both Clear and Safe Expo technologies were used to verify vaccination status when welcoming guests to the convention.

Augusta returned to hosting in-person meetings in Fall 2020 and held a greater number of association conferences in 2021, including a large military and cybersecurity conference and the annual Augusta Ironman 70.3. The city has a number of conference hotels, including the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, that provided safe experiences to attendees by using outdoor spaces as venues and offering creative food and beverage options.

Clarence Brown Conference Center in Cartersville has been hosting safe meetings since November 2020 by implementing policies such as spending extra time sanitizing rooms between sessions, offering health screenings, making greater use of outdoor spaces, and adjusting food and beverage service. Additionally, an outdoor event space was built on the conference center campus between the conference center and a newly-opened Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Columbus Convention and Trade Center in Columbus ensured the Georgia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus Annual Meeting was conducted safely in early 2022 by requiring attendees to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test, wear masks in common areas, and socially distance. The center is within walking distance of several newly-opened and newly-renovated hotels, including a Hampton Inn slated to open this spring.

Jekyll Island Convention Center on Jekyll Island has safely welcomed more than 42 groups since July 2021, with more than 21,000 attendees, by utilizing several medical-grade sanitization systems from Ecolab in addition to its routine cleaning and safety protocols. The island’s newest lodging property, a dual-branded Courtyard & Residence Inn, offers an additional 2,000 square feet of meeting space and sweeping ocean views.

Edgar H. Wilson Convention Center in Macon efficiently executed the Southeast Tourism Society’s Marketing College, a week-long marketing boot camp for tourism and hospitality professionals, in June 2021. Safety measures included conducting temperature checks, giving attendees wristbands to indicate comfort levels, and providing hand sanitizing stations. Macon recently opened its first boutique hotel in the historic central business district, Hotel Forty Five.

Savannah Convention Center in Savannah, a GBAC STAR-accredited facility, hosted 30 large groups in 2021, accounting for more than 100,000 hotel rooms sold. As a result of the city’s Savannah Safe pledge, which saw more than 600 businesses take the pledge in the first week it was introduced in 2020, several groups canceled their events in other states and relocated them to Savannah because of the city’s commitment to conducting safe meetings.

For more information about planning safe and successful meetings in Georgia, click here.


High-resolution images can be found here.

About Explore Georgia

Explore Georgia, the tourism division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, is the state’s official destination marketing organization. Through its home office in Atlanta, nine visitor information centers, and a network of representatives across the globe, Explore Georgia inspires travel to and within the state through marketing programs developed and executed in partnership with the state’s travel industry. Despite COVID-19’s impact on the travel industry, Georgia’s tourism industry drove $53.7 billion in total economic impact and supported more than 410,000 jobs in 2020. Learn more at ExploreGeorgia.org.

About Global Meetings Industry Day

Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID) was created by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition in 2016 to showcase the proven value that business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows, and exhibitions bring to businesses and local economies around the world. Since its inception, GMID has galvanized partners globally and empowered advocates to communicate our industry’s value to lawmakers, the media and business leaders. This year’s GMID theme is Meet Safe, which shows how safe, productive meetings are taking place now—uniting colleagues and reminding them of the importance of face-to-face interactions.

About Meetings Mean Business

Meetings Mean Business is an industry-wide coalition to showcase the undeniable value that business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences, and conventions bring to people, businesses, and communities. By rallying industry advocates, working with stakeholders, conducting original research, engaging with outside voices, and more, the coalition brings the industry together to emphasize its importance. Comprised of over 60 members, the coalition unites the meetings industry with one strong and powerful voice. For more information, visit MeetingsMeanBusiness.com.

About U.S. Travel Association

U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry. In 2020, travel generated $1.5 trillion in economic output and supported 11 million jobs, a drastic decline from pre-pandemic figures. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit USTravel.org for information and recovery-related data.

Media Contact:
Cayla Shoup, PR Manager

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